An Open Newsletter for Those Contributing to the Plant City SDA Bible Worker Fund

It’s that time of year again when I like to celebrate and share the wonderful things God has done through the Plant City Bible Worker Fund. Even with the COVID restrictions God has been providing more ways than ever to share the Gospel.

As well as continuing online Bible studies via Zoom and Facetime, personal and group Bible studies in person are growing as well. This year I have been enjoying several youth, adult and family Bible studies on Zoom as well as after school on the NTCA school campus. I have also been able to give Baptism studies in the Tampa Bay area, extending beyond the Plant City community. In just a few weeks I will be conducting another week of prayer evangelism series at the New Port Richey Adventist school.

In Plant City I have been having group Bible studies as well as personal Bible studies. Some groups meet at the church while I have also started a group Bible Study at the Krazy Kup Café in downtown Plant City. This group is intended to reach the unchurched as well as those who want a personal worship service but are not comfortable returning to a regular sized church yet. The start was rather small, but it has been growing steadily, and more people are showing an interest. Some Adventist members have been reluctant to come because it is at a coffee shop on Sabbath mornings. However no one in our group buys anything (not that I have told them not to, that’s their personal business) and we meet in a private meeting room the café provides at a reasonable cost.

This year also saw several new members coming into the kingdom of God at the Homosassa SDA Church by way of baptism and profession of faith. The Homosassa SDA Church generously provides for half of my fulltime salary. This is why I rely on God providing contributors like you to the Plant City Bible Worker Fund for the other half of my fulltime salary. The Plant City SDA Church itself is unable to contribute, but generously hosts the fund so I can do Bible Work in the Plant City-Tampa Bay area and beyond. Jim, is one of those who I have studied with and baptized at Homosassa. However there still turned out to be a link between him and my ministry in the Tampa Bay area. As it turns out, Jim is the cousin of some friends of mine from the Tampa First SDA Church. Both his family at Tampa First and the Homosassa SDA Church family were very encouraged to see Jim make his decision for Jesus!

As well as doing personal and online Bible studies and seminars, I am usually preaching twice a Sabbath. While many people are uncomfortable returning to the actual church for worship service and Sabbath School, this includes some lay preachers who hesitate to return, thus creating a greater demand for me to speak. The Homosassa SDA Church has graciously moved its services to the afternoon, allowing me to preach mornings at the Plant City SDA Church before driving to Homosassa to preach. Other area churches have had several pastors retire this year, and I have also been called to preach at a few of those churches as well.

Several times recently I have been given the opportunity to preach at the New Port Richey SDA Church.

Meanwhile, as I have been giving personal and group Bible studies and seminars in person in the Florida area, I have also been conducting Zoom and FaceTime personal Bible studies and seminars from Georgia to California and several points in-between. I want to thank those who have been faithfully contributing to this ministry with their generous monthly contributions as well as one time contributions. This ministry has been successful now for over 6 years. Yet there is still so much more to be accomplished. Also while this ministry relies on the continued support of contributors like yourself, some who have begun contributing 6 years are no longer able. This is why we are always welcoming new contributors to contribute monthly or with one time contributions.

You may send your tax deductible contributions to the Plant City SDA Church, P.O. Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Please mark your check or envelope “Bible Worker Fund.”

You may also contribute online by going to the Plant City Adventist Online Giving page, and go to the third line item under “Local Church” which reads “Bible Worker.” 

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Your Christian Servant,

William Earnhardt

Faith or Presumption?

In 2017 hurricane Irma came through Florida and many of us evacuated. I went to Tennessee to be with my sister. The morning the hurricane hit Tampa where I live, I received a text from a friend there who was unable to evacuate. She said she was afraid but she knew God was with her and that she would not get hurt. I thought to myself though, God was with my mother when she drew her last breath and died. Of course I did not text my friend back and tell her that God has been with many people while they drew their last breath. Just because God is with us does not mean we won’t die. When a storm comes having faith that God is with me is one thing, but having faith that I will not die is presumption. After all millions of people have died in various storms throughout earth’s history. I would have to be a blatant fool to think I’m a better Christian than millions of other people or even that I have more faith than those who have died in storms. 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area

Its the same when I get in a car. I pray for safety and I know God is with me. I also know I have heard testimonies from people who survived a car accident where a loved one died. They say they too prayed for protection before their trip. A pastor friend of mine was killed in a car accident just a few Christmases ago. He was in his forties. Am I still alive because I am a better Christian than he was or because I have more faith? Of course not! To think I have survived storms and car accidents because I am a faithful Christian is beyond presumption. It is absurd! Millions more worthy than me have perished in storms and car accidents. I know God is with me regardless of my fate. While Hebrews celebrates the victories of the faithful it also recognizes the deaths of the faithful.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—  of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:35-38 NKJV

Faith is knowing what God has promised. God has promised me eternal life. See Titus 1:2. Presumption is assuming what God has not promised. God never promised me I would never die in a storm or car accident. 

So now let’s get to the title of our topic here. How do I know I have the assurance of salvation in Jesus and am not just being presumptuous that I am saved? Let’s take a look at some Biblical examples of people in the Bible who were being faithful and those who were just being presumptuous. 

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:18-20 NKJV

In the book of James we are taught that true faith will bear the fruits of good works and obedience. “Faith” that does not bring forth good works and obedience is a presumption which will not make us any better off than the demons who believe and tremble. 

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”  Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:11-16 NKJV

The sons of Sceva were presumptuous because they did not know Jesus for themselves. By the way 1 John 2:4 says if we say we know Jesus but do not obey the commandments that just makes us liars. We know they did not know Jesus for themselves because they said. “The Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Paul knew Jesus. They did not. They were being presumptuous thinking the name of Jesus was a magic word like abracadabra. Jesus and Paul are not magic. They both got their power from an obedient relationship with the Father. 

 In Numbers 10:33-35 Moses sent the ark out before their battles and victories. However when Israel was in apostasy their faith i the ark turned into presumption and the ark itself was captured by the enemy in 1 Samuel 4:1-22. The ark was not magic. The ark was not a symbol of presumption. It was a symbol of their faith and obedience toward God. Without obedience the ark had no power for them. Much like Samson’s hair. There was no magic in his hair. His long hair was a sign of his loyalty to God. When he was no longer loyal to God the long hair was meaningless. See Judges 13:5

Romans 1:5 talks about faith that leads to obedience and Revelation 14:12 tells us God’s last day saints will have faith and keep the commandments. True Biblical faith produces obedience. A supposed “faith’ without obedience is mere presumption. In Matthew 4:5-7 Satan tells Jesus to jump off a cliff and have faith that God would save Him. However there no command from God to jump off a cliff. Jesus knew that jumping off the cliff would not be in accordance with God’s commands and would not be an obedient faith but mere presumption. By they way, today we wear seat belts in our cars and masks at church because while we have faith in God we were given no command to be careless and presumptuous with our safety and health. Jesus gave us an example of using common sense and faith in God at the same time. One does not cancel out the other. 

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. Hebrews 11:30 NKJV

But a few days later the children of Israel were defeated when disobedience led to presumption. See Joshua 7:1-26

While Romans 1:5 and Revelation 14:12 talk about faith and obedience David links presumption with sin. 

Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Psalm 19:13 NKJV

Faith is when we claim a promise in the Bible such as God is with us. Presumption is when we claim assurance the Bible never gave us such as I will never die in a storm or car accident. Or even that I will never get the COVID-19 therefore I do not need to wear a mask or social distance. In the wilderness Jesus used faith and common sense and so shall I. 

Faith leads me into good works. See Ephesians 2:8-10. Faith leads me into commandment keeping. See Revelation 14:12. Presumption encourages me to carelessness and sin. See Psalm 19:13

Matthew 7:21-27 teaches me claiming salvation without obeying Jesus is mere presumption. When I put God’s Word into practice I have the assurance of salvation. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.